I wearily read the message on my phone: I want you to meet some of my friends. My husband and I had had a busy week and had just finished Sabbath worship at the home church we attend. It was a hot day and we really wanted to get home. I replied to our friend and offered to meet another day.
“Please come now! They traveled long to see you,” our friend responded.
That’s how we found ourselves immersed in an extraordinary visit with Yusuf and Dilara* as their young son played quietly nearby. When they asked about our faith, we told them we are Adventists. “But we thought you were Christians!” was their shared surprise.
We assured them we believe in Christ, but we also described our understanding of God and the Holy Spirit. Their little boy became restless. When we started explaining more about Jesus, he became more disturbed and insisted on leaving. Quickly they concluded the visit, but they were emphatic, “We want to know more. We have to meet again.” We promised to send them a link to a brief explanation of who Seventh-day Adventists are.
Weeks later we arranged to meet again. They had read the link carefully. Immediately they began asking us about Jesus, our lifestyle, and more. Their questions were honest, probing. We agreed to meet again. And again. Each time we responded to their questions as simply as possible, but any time we tried to deepen our discussion, something always happened to cut off our conversation. We began sensing why the little boy had been restless at our first visit. We realized we were observing a supernatural battle for their attention. We bathed every visit in prayer, but we felt sad we could not fully answer their longing to learn.
Some time later that’s exactly what my husband and I were talking about as we were driving near their neighborhood after having been out of town for weeks. The bus ahead of us stopped to let off passengers. As we waited for the group to cross the road ahead of us, we were sharing ways we might be able to see Yusuf and Dilara again.
At that moment my eyes caught a glimpse of a man and woman crossing the road with heavy bags. My mind raced, trying to place what seemed so familiar about them. The bus was pulling away.
“Don’t go!” I cried, as I grabbed my husband’s arm. “That’s Yusuf and Dilara getting off the bus right now! The people with the bags.” By then they were on the opposite curb gathering themselves together. I jumped out of the car, shouting their names and gesturing frantically to get their attention. Startled, they froze, as surprised as we were.
Inspite of the excitement of piling their bags into our car, we heard Yusuf repeat over and over, “It was God who wanted us to meet today. It was God!” He explained breathlessly how they had missed their first bus. This bus had them arriving 20 minutes later than they had planned. My husband and I exchanged glances. We, too, had experienced a slight delay that put us at that intersection behind their bus at the very moment they would need help to get home.
With their luggage inside their apartment and the amazement of the divine appointment hanging over us, we began to talk about Jesus. They were more interested than ever. They asked if there were other Adventists around, if they were all foreigners, if there were nationals too, if we ever had meetings together. We invited them to our house church, and we had just begun an explanation of the biblical Sabbath when the phone rang. Their son had been in an accident and they urgently were needed at the school.
My husband and I looked at each other. By now we recognized that if the enemy was working, God must be winning! In spite of the interruption, our animated conversation continued as we drove them to the school. Their son was OK. That day we parted with the knowledge that God had intervened to give us an opportunity to tell Yusuf and Dilara a little more about Him. We are praying that the next time our paths cross will be at our house church!
Their journey is exciting to follow, but we know it has only begun. We have no guarantee it will be easy. We know what we have experienced; the enemy works hardest when God is winning. But we pray for His continued protection of Yusuf’s and Dilara’s honest interest and His constant leading as we faithfully meet the part He needs us to fill.
- Not their real names